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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was democracy.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Honoré-Mercier (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2015, with 16% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Incorporation by Reference in Regulations Act June 18th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my colleague. I am a member of the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations. Some files have been dragging on for 20 years because there is a problem with the translation from English to French.

Does my colleague think that this problem will only get worse with incorporation by reference, given that we are unable to resolve that type of issue now?

Incorporation by Reference in Regulations Act June 18th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am a member of the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations. It was already a concern to see the department legislate more and more by way of regulations without respecting the spirit of the law. It is said that all Canadians should know the law. Here, we are talking about open incorporation by reference and laws that exist elsewhere. The members opposite talked about free trade agreements. That can change over time. If one day a ruling is needed on a case, which law will the ruling be based on? Where do we begin to assign fault to someone who did not obey the law if the law itself is not defined and it is always being added to and evolving?

I find that the analysis of the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations is being ignored. I would like the member opposite to comment on that.

Gabrielle Dufresne June 17th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the “Je suis Gabrielle” march was held last Sunday in honour of a 17-year-old student who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend, who could not accept the fact that their relationship was over.

Gabrielle had just finished high school and was about to begin a CEGEP program to become a nurse, because she wanted to take care of seniors and people who are sick. She had always been a very compassionate girl. As a mother and as a woman, I was really shocked by her death. It is terrible how common violence against women is here in Canada. Just think of the young women at the École polytechnique or our missing aboriginal women and girls.

However, there is hope. I was lucky enough to meet Gabrielle's mother, Marlène Dufresne. She wants to transform her suffering into hope. She wants to help our adolescents have healthier romantic relationships and help them realize that these relationships must be based on respect and caring, not violence and manipulation.

Hon. colleagues, she is calling on us, as politicians, to support all programs to raise awareness about violence—

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act June 16th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, there is one thing that strikes me. I have children, teenaged girls, and I think it is a terrible thing to force a girl to marry. That is often done because of a different culture and different vision of marriage. The victims then choose not to report their forced marriage, out of fear that their parents will be deported for facilitating it.

There is therefore a problem in this bill. We have to help these girls, but how can we educate the parents and change their way of thinking so that this kind of thing no longer happens? In Denmark, a similar bill was enacted and no crimes were reported. That means that the girls feel so guilty about accusing their parents that they do not report anything and they continue to live with the abuse.

Something was not done right there. I would like my colleague to talk about this in more detail. Yes, we have to put an end to forced marriages, but how can we help girls to speak up without being afraid that their families will be deported?

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 June 15th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, many families come to my office. Two weeks ago, I was at the family celebration in Rivière-des-Prairies. The event was organized by Initiative 1, 2, 3 GO!

When we talk with people, we find out that some parents earn $15 or $10 an hour. We can all agree that that is not a lot.

I have a question for my colleague across the way, who says it is up to families to decide what to do with their money and to use it as they see fit. Yes, that is great, but they have to have money before they can decide what to do with it.

Can the hon. member explain how Canadians will benefit from these income splitting plans when their income is less than $44,000 a year or they earn $15 an hour?

What about couples who earn more than $44,000 a year but are in the same tax bracket? How will they benefit from being able to split their income? Is there really an advantage to that?

What is more, some families send their children to day care. However, in Ontario, the average cost of sending a child to day care is $2,000.

Can the hon. member explain to the House how an extra $100 a month is going to give these families the tax relief they need to make ends meet every month?

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 June 15th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

There is one thing I am very worried about. When we talk about budget measures, we are talking about economic measures to make the country's economy work. However, when the government introduces yet another omnibus bill, it includes important measures that have nothing to do with the budget.

My question for my colleague is this: as a legislator, does she not feel that democracy is undermined every time there is an omnibus bill and the House passes legislative measures that have nothing to do with the budget? Then the government asks why we did not support those measures.

I certainly find that this shows a lack of respect for our work as legislators.

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law) June 11th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. I would say that there is something even more serious. The powers of the state are divided into legislative, executive and judicial powers. I believe that defining what judges should do is very dangerous. They are not allowed to use the jurisprudence and their own judgment to make decisions. That is very delicate.

The government really needs to understand that it is up to the judges to hand down decisions. They are capable of doing so. By forcing them to impose minimum sentences, not only is the government criticizing their work, but it is also filling up the prisons, which have no more room. Therefore, this has an adverse effect in terms of costs and, above all, it undermines the recognition of judges' capacity to make decisions, even though that is what judges do.

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law) June 11th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it may have been a problem with the interpretation. I want to stress that I do understand which animals are protected by the law. That is why I am saying that we still have work to do with respect to other animals, which are so important to the lives of many people. I am thinking of an older persons's dog, for example. It may not necessarily be a guide dog. It is the little dog that has been with us for years. It is the little dog that will also protect us against a thief who invades our home, because that dog will bark the loudest. Little dogs often bark the loudest. They are not covered by the law. I know exactly which dogs are covered by the law, but I also believe that we need to think beyond that.

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law) June 11th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine.

Bill C-35 was announced in the 2013 throne speech. It proposes to amend the Criminal Code and create a new offence to specifically prohibit the killing, maiming, wounding, poisoning or injuring of law enforcement animals, military animals and service animals.

Anyone found guilty of such an offence could be sentenced to up to five years in prison, with a mandatory minimum sentence of six months in prison. The NDP is opposed to any form of animal cruelty, and we have been defending that position in our legislative work for a long time. By way of evidence, two of my colleagues have already introduced bills on this subject.

For example, my colleague from Parkdale—High Park introduced Bill C-232, which seeks to move animals out of the property section of the Criminal Code and create a section on animal cruelty. Under the existing legislation and the Criminal Code, a person must own the animal or have some connection to it in order to be found guilty of animal cruelty. That means that if a stranger savagely kills an animal, he cannot be convicted under the law.

For example, the definition of “animal” is inadequate. It must be reviewed and so must the provisions of the Criminal Code. Bill C-232 would allow the justice system to deal more effectively with animal cruelty offences and increase the possibility of conviction for animal cruelty offences. This is a good bill. My colleague met with thousands of people who support this bill. I would therefore like to ask the minister and my colleagues across the way if they will work with us to regulate and enhance animal cruelty offences.

I would also like to talk about Bill C-592, which was introduced by the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce-Lachine. This bill seeks to better define what an animal is under the Criminal Code and define what is meant by intent and acts of cruelty. I would again like all my colleagues across the way to tell me whether the Conservative government will support these bills, which seek to modernize the Criminal Code and better regulate the treatment of animals.

We all agree that Bill C-35 is a step in the right direction, but we need to do more. There is still more work to be done. Something that bothers me a little is that the Conservatives have once again introduced a minimum sentence, which prevents judges from using their discretionary power. In reality, individuals are sometimes sentenced to prison terms that are longer than the minimum. This shows that judges are capable of making a proper judgment.

Bill C-35 is known as Quanto's law, in tribute to a law enforcement dog in Edmonton that was killed when trying to intercept a fleeing suspect. The offender was sentenced to 26 months in prison for animal cruelty. In this case, the judge used his discretionary power and relied on jurisprudence, existing laws and the evidence presented. This is how it should be. It is up to the courts, to an experienced judge, to determine a fair sentence for the offence. With Bill C-35, the government is once again showing its propensity for wanting to take away the courts' discretion.

As I said earlier, New Democrats believe that animal cruelty is disgraceful. We care about protecting these animals that are so dear to so many people. I want to share some examples of dogs that have demonstrated their loyalty to humans. In an exceptional case in France, Zarco was awarded the bronze National Defence Medal, which is normally handed out to human beings.

Very few animals, even those that are faithful law enforcement assistants, have received that honour. Zarko, who was specially trained to find lost people, was amazingly effective.

He began serving in 2002 alongside his master, officer David Monteil. Bearing badge 4637, the dog participated in 145 searches and 54 interventions with the Peloton de surveillance et d'investigation de la gendarmerie in Narbonne. Throughout his seven years of loyal service, Zarko, a French dog, saved lives and helped catch criminals. In 2006, he found the trail of a 78-year-old man lost in the vicinity of Narbonne, as well as that of a 79-year-old woman with Alzheimer's. She had wandered away from her retirement home and gotten lost. Zarko found her. In July 2007, in the stifling heat, Zarko saved a man with serious mental illness who was intending to commit suicide. The following August, he found the driver of a stolen car who had fled. In January 2008, near Lézignan, Zarko performed another miracle when he helped find a six-year-old child with autism who had left his parents' home. The child was half naked, wet from falling in water-logged ditches, and shivering with cold. In October, in Port-la-Nouvelle, the four-legged police dog found the body of a motorcyclist killed in a traffic accident whose body was submerged in a creek that ran through dense vegetation. On March 26, 2009, as Zarko was nearing retirement, he performed one last deed and found a 73-year-old man with diabetes and Alzheimer's who had left his home five hours before. This is a truly remarkable example.

I would like to talk about an example that is a little bit closer to home. Samba is a hero. This dog saved the life of his owner, Ms. Karin Hennelle, who is 68 and in a wheelchair. One day, when she was on her daily outing with her dog, a truck approached when she was about a kilometre away from home. There was a lot of gravel on the road, so the truck was driving down the middle of the road. Ms. Hennelle decided to get off the road. She moved over to the side of the road at the edge of a ravine. The truck went by, but the wheels of Ms. Hennelle's wheelchair slid on the grass. The wheelchair slid and Ms. Hennelle fell into the ravine. She said: “I felt myself falling. It felt strange.” Ms. Hennelle tumbled five metres down into the ravine until a tree stopped her fall. She had fallen. She would no longer be with us were it not for Samba. That is when the dog took action. Ms. Hennelle said: “I told the dog to go up and get help. Of course, I did not really think he understood me, but he went onto the road and barked as loud as he could.” The dog caught the attention of a farmer, and firefighters then came and rescued Ms. Hennelle. She says that she owes her life to her dog.

Now I would like to give a more institutional example. Until 1981, there was no Canadian guide dog training facility. The MIRA Foundation created the first such school in Sainte-Madeleine in Quebec. In order to get a guide dog before 1981, one had to turn to schools in the United States. However, those institutions provided no services in French. All services were in English. On October 21, 1981, MIRA proudly introduced the first two guide dogs trained in Quebec. Since that time, MIRA has been pursuing its goal to increase the independence of people with disabilities by providing them with dogs bred and fully trained to respond to their adaptation and rehabilitation needs.

We are talking about service dogs, animals that are already protected under the law. However, we are indebted to these animals, with whom we live every day, animals that are so important in our homes. They joyfully welcome us home after a long day at work. They are often more pleased to see us than our own children are. These dogs can console an adolescent in tears or simply be a good companion for a small child or senior. That is why I urge the government to support the two bills introduced by the NDP on animal cruelty.

Petitions June 11th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the petition I am presenting today concerns the designation of Latin-American heritage day. The petitioners are members of the Latin American community and a visible minority. People from that region have settled across Canada and play an important role, especially in the development of the arts, the economy, politics and science and the establishment of community organizations in Canada.

They are asking the members of the House of Commons to support Bill C-635 to designate October 5 as Latin-American heritage day throughout Canada.